Marathon legend Catherine Ndereba finally explains why she retired unconventionally

Ndereba is widley regarded as one of the greatest female marathoners of all time, but she retired quite unceremoniously.

Marathon icon Catherine Ndereba has explained why she decided to retire without a lot of glamor back in 2012.

Known for her unparalleled achievements in the marathon world, Ndereba’s decision to step away from the sport without fanfare was driven by persistent health issues.

Between 2003 and 2008, Ndereba consistently finished in the top two in five successive global championship marathons. 

She twice won the marathon at the World Championships in Athletics and secured silver medals at the Summer Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008, making her Kenya’s first female multi-medalist. 

Her accolades also include four Boston Marathon victories and two Chicago Marathon wins. It was at the latter in 2001 that she broke the women’s marathon world record with a time of 2:18:47. In 2008, the Chicago Tribune’s Philip Hersh described her as the greatest women’s marathoner of all time.

Despite these incredible accomplishments, Ndereba chose to retire quietly in 2012. In an interview on the Safari Za Mabingwa show with comedian Obina on KTN News, Ndereba revealed the reasons behind her understated retirement.

“I stopped unceremoniously because I developed some problems. Just like with your car, as you continue driving it, you know it needs service. It may get in an accident or break something,” Ndereba explained.

A problematic ankle, which she had managed throughout her career, became overwhelming towards the end. 

“For me, I developed an injury that could not be fixed there and then. It is something that needs a lot of attention. I needed surgery but decided against it. I wanted to heal naturally,” she shared.

Ndereba’s right ankle ligaments were gradually torn over time. “I went to the doctor, who assessed and did all the images, including the MRI that showed exactly what was wrong.”

Despite the possibility of prolonging her career through surgery, Ndereba opted against it. “I did not want to have it. All that time in the hospital? And yet, I could not make a bigger name for myself after what God gave me. I was totally content,” she stated.

Ndereba’s decision to retire without seeking further medical intervention reflects her contentment with her illustrious career. Her legacy as a marathon icon remains intact, celebrated for her remarkable achievements and her graceful exit from the sport.

posted Monday July 8th
by Mark Kinyanjui